Coronavirus Briefing: What Happened Today

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More than 30 other countries, including the United States, have diagnosed cases with the variant, which appears to be between 10% and 60% more transmissible than the original version. It could soon become the dominant form of the virus.

The new variant could end up “exacerbating a relentless increase in deaths and overwhelming the already strained health system,” my colleague Apoorva Mandavilli wrote last week.


  • An outbreak at a convent near Albany, New York, has infected nearly half of its roughly 100 residents. Nine sisters, all over the age of 80, died from Covid-19 in December.

  • The California prison system, which has been exceptionally affected by the coronavirus, has started vaccinating some inmates – but none so far in the 25 prisons most overwhelmed by infections.

  • Thailand, which has been one of the most effective countries at containing the coronavirus, imposed new, far-reaching measures on Monday as infections hit a new daily high of 745.

  • Japanese officials have considered declaring a state of emergency in Tokyo for the first time since April. Authorities on Monday demanded that restaurants and bars close at 8 p.m. to prevent further spread of the virus.

  • South Korea will extend restrictions in and around Seoul until January 17.

  • Zimbabwe shut down non-essential businesses for a month and extend the curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., its information secretary said Saturday.

Here’s a roundup of restrictions in the 50 states.


  • Sustained loss of smell and taste in some Covid-19 survivors is receiving new attention from scientists, who are concerned it could affect nutrition and mental health.

  • Troubled drug treatment centers are closing their doors or relying on virtual programs. People with addiction began to relapse.

  • The NCAA intends to hold its men’s basketball tournament entirely in Indiana in March and early April, in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

  • 60-year-old Virginia state senator Ben Chafin has died of complications from Covid-19.

  • Israel distributed the first of two doses to more than 10% of its population, as part of a particularly successful vaccination campaign. The effort did not extend to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the PA does not appear to have publicly requested doses of the vaccine.


Unfortunately, I tested positive for Covid-19 just before Christmas. My family, rightly so, didn’t want me with them, but they agreed to get me on FaceTime whenever I wanted. Ironically, one of my sisters gave my other sister a selfie stick / tripod for Christmas, so they put a phone on the stick and put “me” to see what was going on. It really made me feel like I was there, and it improved my mood every day, helping me survive the isolation. Christmas 2020 will forever be known in our family as “The One with Lora on a Stick”. (We are big fans of “Friends”). – Lora Vandevoorde, De Pere, Wis.

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